Michael's Dispatches

Censorship Threat from US Army Public Affairs

85 Comments

28 September 2011

A US Army Captain named Carbone barged into my tent and physically assaulted me.  The interesting backstory is studded with ill-discipline inside the 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion here in Afghanistan.  The 443rd might need some intervention from general officer level.  In any case, that ill-discipline manifested when Captain Chris "AbulMajed" Carbone (his Facebook name) verbally threatened and physically assaulted me.  This happened yesterday. Today the Army threatened to end my embed.  They then ended it.  And now have restarted it again.  (All this in less than 36 hours).

Email from Army:

[To] Michael Yon
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: FOUO

Michael,

I've got to be frank with you, and let you know that your embed is tenuous as of now. This issue with CPT Carbone and SFC Coleman is bringing a lot of negative attention not only to you, but also to RC-South from ISAF Joint Command. LTC Connolly, the new RC-South PAO, has only been in office for ~10 days, and has already gotten two calls from his higher HQs about your postings. While we certainly do not condone any unprofessional conduct by TF Spartan Soldiers, we feel that this whole issue is drawing negative attention to the command.

Therefore, Michael, I'm asking you to please consider removing the FB posts about CPT Carbone, SFC Coleman, and MSG Grisham. These are incidents that should be dealt with among the four of you, and not to a worldwide audience. Your readers do not need to read about personal conflicts. That being said, I am not downplaying the seriousness of any of these allegations against the aforementioned Soldiers, and we will continue putting a "full court press" into investigating these incidents. We take these allegations extremely seriously, as well as the reputations of our Soldiers and task forces.

I will speak with MAJ Casiano about the next course of action here, but want you to understand where this may lead. Please let me know if you have any questions.

v/r,
CPT Sandell

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    J C Murray · 8 years ago
    Michael: LIke a lot of folks, I've been reading your reports for a number of years. They are incredbly important since you report with the bark off. in the sixties I served in line outfits and then in a Corps level PIO in Euorpe. Our firat PIO was a Cpt type with combat experience. He was steady, reational and blessed with a love of the Green Machine and a full combat load of common sense. When the Cpt retired he was replaced with a Major; a nice guy but more political internally. WE had a few runins over publishing the ladies bowling league results in a troop newspaper. I won that argument and a couple of others before he was transferred to the states. If the Army cancels your embed they (and we) would lose the only SF-experienced voice of reason we have. Then we'd be left with primarily propaganda and there's enough of that already.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ted Nugent · 8 years ago
    Michael,
    Good work son. It is time to come home.
    Ted F. Nugent
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jackie · 8 years ago
    I shudder to think what may have happened if you had not named names. Sometimes "nothing" is the worst thing that can happen. The pen is your sword, you don't get a gun. Use it. It's about time someone started clearing up some of the mess from the bottom up. If that means publicly, then I suppose it does. Having read your posts for quite some time now, I trust you would not have said anything had it been a small skirmish. This did not seem at all small. Instincts are there for a reason. I am happy you seemed to have heard, trusted, and used yours, and have done so in a polite yet to-the-point manner. Know that you are facing fear in the face in so many ways, physically, mentally, emotionally...HUGE PROPS!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      JR · 8 years ago
      Yours is one of the few sites I continue to read about he wars. It is accurate, according to those who have been there with you. Those who are conducting themselves with less than the best of standards in this way, do not realize the immense following, and support you have. I have many friends who only occasionally get to read your posts, but all of them respect you highly for what you do. It is just a matter of time before this ongoing dispute becomes national news. When that occurs the senior leadership, will be compelled to do, what they should have already done.

      My concern is that this is not only about M Yon's treatment and safety. (Without belittling that - as it is very important). This is about the safety of all the soldiers under these officers.

      Best of luck to you, and our prayers are with you for your safety, and wisdom to handle this situation.

      God Bless! and Thank you for your service.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack · 8 years ago
    Mr. Yon. This sucks dragon breath that several high-ranking enlisted and commissioned officers would do what they have done and more importantly what they are collectively capable of doing, when you are sleeping or your back is turned I hope someone with the utmost integrity at home is reviewing what took place, and I'm sure it is more than you have reported. Perhaps it is time to Embed with another unit, but that will be your call as well as the call of the weenies at HQ. Be safe and be well. GodSpeed from the Big Apple.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bruce Templeton · 8 years ago
    Michael,
    I read your every report and have read your books, and I send money when I can. We rely on you over here in the states for the G2 on what is going on over there. Without your hard work we would be missing an important and honest source of information regarding our military and our mission in that part of the world. You help me understand what our military needs from us in order to succeed and what we can do to help keep their morale up, and you absolutely insist that we know when they operate without integrity at any level. I cannot tell you how important this work you do is in a free society like ours with a volunteer military. Without the financial and moral support and oversight from and by the citizens of the United States of Aamerica our military would be nowhere. I have searched far and wide on the Internet and I have not found a journalist like you working in that theatre, ever. You're the best, truly. Keep up the excellent work and be safe.


    Bruce
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Barry Sheridan · 8 years ago
    Tut tut Michael, are you annoying people again! You should know that telling the truth does not win friends.
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    Chas C-Q · 8 years ago
    Whenever I got into a conflict with one very bureaucratic (and unscrupulous) former boss - rather than close the door and sit in his low guest chair as he commanded - I made a point of taking a step back into the hall and recounting my understanding of "our" problem in parade voice. I seldom lost an argument. Ultimately, he was reassigned.

    Keep doing what you're doing. It's your only insurance.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steven Hoober · 8 years ago
    Why do PAO guys always act like they have never even seen the local news (not even the sports report) much less maybe are actual press liasons?

    While airing grievances is not appropriate in all types of work, interference with doing your job as a member of the press is itself a story. How many times (lately!) have we heard that the foreign press has been kicked out of some dictatorship suddenly getting a protest movement, and that action alone is worthy of reporting, as it's a bad sign for everyone. How are we not to hold the USG to the same standard?

    If the CoC doesn't want their unit to be seen in a bad light, they shouldn't do stupid things, and own up when they do (shit happens). Well-respected, well-read reporters like you are not going to have their career ruined because some PAO guy said you are lying or vindictive or should man up and take the abuse.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bill Boyd · 8 years ago
    Yours is the most trust worthy voice that I know of re. Afg. I send your posts to a number of folk and they love them. Hang tough friend. You are doing the right job or these people wouldn't be harassing you. Bless you for the things you do.

    Best, BB
    • This commment is unpublished.
      RJ · 8 years ago
      Michael, With all due respect to CPT Carbone et al, without knowing the details of what precipitated the attack, (though I will certainly read on an find out), and from the limited number of your dispatches which I have read, I know you have nothing but the highest respect and regard for the troops with which you serve as an imbed and the at times exceedingly demanding mission in which they are engaged. You sir, I believe, epitomize "fair and balance" and I greatly appreciate your dispatches from the front. And so I can only second the motion "hang tough"....and soldier on (as no doubt you will). And may God bless our all our men and women in the military, past, present, and future.
      All the best to you and yours,
      RJ
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevin Hoar · 8 years ago
    Michael, without your reporting from Iraq, I'm not sure we on the home front would have any unvarnished journalism to rely upon. Your good judgment every step of the way has shown us the real "ground truth" of the conflicts you've covered, both the good and the bad, in a fair and constructive way. As recent years have shown, it really does matter what folks on the home front think about our military engagements in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. There are A LOT of us who don't at all trust the current Commander-In-Chief to best defend our lives, liberty, and the broader national security interests. YET, we do continue to steadfastly support our American fighting men and women in harm's way. To the ones deciding your embed fate in Afghanistan and the fate of those threatening you, I say there is far more at stake in what they decide next than bad PR for them. We're watching AND we will make our elected officials aware of what happens next. Thank you for what you do.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    carol · 8 years ago
    Tell Sandell that this Carbone character is on the world's radar as a PR disaster waiting to happen.

    Have you considered - maybe he WANTS the American military to have a negative reputation?

    Or maybe he just wants his nanosecond of fame a la Mark Chapman?

    I too think you should leave this Carbone character's vicinity - come to London, the weather is shockingly good at the moment!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave · 8 years ago
    Michael,

    The world is now watching Cpt Sandell to see what he does. Whatever action he chooses to take will follow him for the rest of his days.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Tbones · 8 years ago
    This CPT is an idiot. They should have those three soldiers standing tall before the man, meaning immediate investigation and referral of charges under the UCMJ if found to be grounds for doing so.
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    Chris · 8 years ago
    Many moons ago, when I took a public affairs course for police supervisors, the FIRST thing the instructor (another cop) said was, "Don't pick fights with people who order ink by the barrel, newsprint by the boxcar, or videotape by the semi-load."

    I took this very seriously and had excellent relations with the media (except for one reporter who nobody liked, not even at his paper).
  • This commment is unpublished.
    nellie · 8 years ago
    Michael,
    It's not your reporting of the incidents that attracts the negative attention - it's the actions of these so called 'Civil Affairs' (the word civil appears totally inappropriate?) personnel. Now we'll see how good the US Army PR machine is......maybe?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    walter90 · 8 years ago
    Interesting that Grisham posted on a Brietbart page in answer to me. He claimed the stories about him were "fabricated". I told him to make his case, I was listening. Nothing but the sound of crickets. He damaged his credibility by not responding and i now lean toward Michael Yon. Way to go troop!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike S. · 8 years ago
    I have been in Civil Affairs for over 25 years and can sadly say that the quality of units and personnel have collapsed. That is not to say that there are not good soldiers in the units, but continuous deplayments since Desert Storm in 1991 have taken there toll. In 1990 a Civil Affairs unit was difficult to get into, you had to be interviewed by the unit commander. Civli Affairs members use to be higher rank so any National Guard or Reserve soldier who wnated promotion opportunities would need to impress CA unit with civilian skills. Such as a law degreee, doctor, accountant, skilled trade, utility (H2O, Elec, sewer, other)worker. In 1990 a CA Team Officer and NCO generally had close to 20 years service each, by 2003 that was closer to 10yrs.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      John · 8 years ago
      Civil Affairs is still a competitive branch. If you've actually been working in it for 25 years you'd know that for a CPT to receive a branch transfer to Civil Affairs he has to put a competitive packet together for submission to DA in the same way that Special Forces candidates are required to do. Not everyone gets accepted. I know this because I have friends who have not been accepted. Most of the officers you see today in the Guard or Reserves come from active duty service.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mike S. · 8 years ago
    SECOND HALF
    Now an officer makes Captain and enlisted makes E-6 on first contract almost all of that time in reserve status. In 2009-10 the teams I saw at Dix were being lead but month old 2nd LTs and E-5s. Few have any significate civilian skills. Worse yet most have little interest in the culture or government structure of the country they are going to. The system puts on a good show, but as long as you do not fail the piss test you will be promoted when you put in your promotion packet.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark · 8 years ago
    Mr Yon,

    You state that you were assaulted by MSgt CJ Grisham but provide no details on this. Now you state you were assauted by this Capt Carbone both verbally (what???) and physically...How? Did he punch, kick, strike,? Were there any witnesses to back up your side of the story? Do you have any marks or wounds? Has the IG or Mil Police began an investigation?....
    Sorry to appear so skeptical here, I really do like your work...when your doing your work...ya know? But lately you seem to be doing this Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde thing- doing awesome reporting and great pictures in the field, yet getting into these confrontations back at the FOB. Anway, I am praying for a peaceful resolution for all parties concerned. Good luck!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Larry · 8 years ago
    Michael,
    Some people are just pricks, no matter how we look at it. I recall reports during Vietnam about people who flaunted their authority. Hang tough, we on the home front don't waver from such insanity and always look forward to your dispatches.
    Stay low and safe...
    Kindest regards,
    Larry
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Sabot · 8 years ago
    Be specific. What exactly was the 'assault?' Don't pitch inferences and accusations without being exact. And if you think you need GO involvement go ask for it directly not via a blog.
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    Scott Hamilton · 8 years ago
    Michael, in 2005 I was drafted into Civil Affairs. Soon I will retire after 28 years. My experience with CA is a long story of embezzelment, theft, corruption and etc. CA is little more than a corrupt syndicate from top to bottom. Many unaccounted for funds has disappeared into money-laundering systems in CA units. To be fair, there are good soldiers in CA who try to do right things, but they are a minority. What you experienced is a norm in CA units. The objective is to discredit people who are a threat to the operation. That guy manufactured a controversy and he will have lied on reports to the command regarding your actions and statements. He will have supporting statements from other people whom he has command authority over, most who will not have been present. He will have presented the arguement to the command that you would have to be removed for lack of trust and animosity. The command would find themselves with a choice they couldn't argue against
    • This commment is unpublished.
      wynnbob · 8 years ago
      Wow. I had no idea the Civil Affairs community was so corrupt... money laundering, embezzlement, "syndicate". Makes me wonder why a "soldier" who was "drafted" into CA, who clearly has such a sterling moral compass doesn’t do his or her patriotic duty and come forward to protect the integrity of our service members. After all, your having knowledge of these acts and not coming forward makes you equally accountable for these actions, does it not?
      Or maybe you are just another one of those tools who wants to hear themselves talk and feel the best way to be heard is to use incendiary word and accusations.
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Joe · 7 years ago
      What unit were you with, where, and when? I have two tours under my belt with CA now and have not known this to be the "majority" case as you claim. Have I seen shitty people? Hell yes. But I've seen them in CA, infantry, S1, S2, S4, etc. I know neither of us is fully correct, but just because you saw some assholes doing their thing under the "CA" title does NOT mean that the majority of CA bubbas are like that. It sounds more to me like a command issue within your deployed unit. Get an IG in that business if it's as bad as you're saying.

      But if I was 'drafted' into CA like you (IRR, yeah?) I'd probably have a pissy attitude as well. 10% of my company on my first deployment was IRR so I can see where that would be coming from. However the draft is done, dude.
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    Shanman · 8 years ago
    Drafted into Civil Affairs? No one gets drafted. Let's also remember there are two types of Civil Affairs personnel, the Active duty special operations types and the Reserve component that you mention here. Very different levels of training, cultural awareness, and regional expertise.

    Order to Chaos!
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Buckaroomedic · 8 years ago
      Gotta call BS on your statement. I got "drafted", if you will, into CA. I was in the IRR attending grad school and got the telegram the day after Christmas. Reported, half-way across the country, for duty and was eventually told that I was being "involuntarily reclassified into CA". I didn't even know what CA was! I didn't want to be CA, I wanted to go as a medic, but what can one do? Typical Army; I was sent to Ft. Dix for the whirlwind reserve component CA training, in the middle of winter, with no cold weather gear what-so-ever.
      • This commment is unpublished.
        Buckaroomedic · 8 years ago
        Oops, my original post was too long:

        Yes there are two components to CA, the AD and USAR side, but the mission is the same. Remember that the Reserve side makes-up about 98% of the total CA force. You're right though, the training is different. Mostly due to Reserve component time constraints. The AD guys go in initially to set things up and are "usually" out within a month or so. The USAR guys go in for the standard one-year tour and are the ones who really accomplish the "hearts and minds" stuff . . .
    • This commment is unpublished.
      Mack · 7 years ago
      Wrong on all counts. The reserve CA spends longer in country, and brings the civilian aquired skill that the are required for the stability mission we need to achieve for an orderly departure. Typically they have done multiple tours in the same AO, so unless you are telling me that all of the AC CA speak Dari and Pashtu (which they don't) I'm not buying regional expertise or cultural edge. And yes people have been involuntarly reclassed to CA. I have worked with both AC and RC CA and the best don't claim to be "special", they just do their job. I won't say which I find more capable becuase I take each soldier as I find him, don't need to knock anyone to feel better about myself. Anyhow, they were both under special operations command until fairly recently and that was a funding decison not a capabilities decision, so I guess they were all special until 2009 or so. Regardless the training and doctrine is the same and still under USASOC for both AC and RC.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    JASON · 8 years ago
    I am a big fan of yours and I show your picture postings to anybody who will look. I have to say though, that when you live in somebody else's house, you live by their rules, and you wait on them to take care of discipline, and protection. Why not take down the posts out of respect for the CPT Sandell. When the Army does not respond and take care of these issues as they have promised, then go public. This is not Facebook material, this is legal material. If these troublemakers aren't made accountable by higher-ups, then legal action and public information makes sense. On a lighter note, my 8 year old daughter is now dreaming of becoming a helicopter pilot after she saw your photos of Lacey, the female pilot whose photos you published recently. Thanks to you and your hours of labor, and faithful, dogged reporting, we here at home are gaining a clearer picture of the fight "over there". Keep up the great work, and know that I pray for you often.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Holly · 8 years ago
    Michael, Are you still there? I'm concerned as you are my only connection to my son who is in the 4-4 Cavalary...
    Concerned mother!!!!
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    James · 8 years ago
    Ya know, there is not a day that goes by that I don't miss the Army. But it's guys like him that make me glad I'm no longer in. Every post I was ever at there was always at least one guy in the unit who was an a$$hat to everyone he had power over. Since being on the block these last 24 years, I have enjoyed having the ability to walk away from employers like that. Stay strong and stay safe Micheal, those kinds of a$$hats can be dangerous to people they can't control.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Francisco · 8 years ago
    Hello............Praying for your retrun..............
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    stallion · 8 years ago
    Mr Yon,
    What triggered this highly unprofessional display? Why did this 'civil affairs' officer actually jump you? Back story is vital.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    bb · 8 years ago
    are you OK? What happened? Can you talk?
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    Glen · 8 years ago
    Nothing but silence I hope all is well and at worst case you are on your way home.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Randy de Mars · 8 years ago
    Saw this kind of &^%$ all the time while serving over 20 years in the Army. Keep up the great coverage and watch your backside.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    shane · 8 years ago
    Be careful, its very easy to get fragged in a war zone, watch your back...get a piece from a trusted soldier.Stay safe
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brad Tibbetts · 8 years ago
    I know several officers who have been "drafted" into civil affairs (circa 2006). They were Officers who had left active duty for the reserves and were at the tail end of their time in the IRR. They were recalled to active duty and sent to civil affairs training.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joe · 7 years ago
    "CPT Carbone" rang a bell the instant I saw it in this article, but it took until I read "civil affairs" to piece it together. I do not know this man personally, but the name is familiar and in the small world of CAPOC (our command) I have known his name to be synonymous with "FUCK HEAD". I was in Afghanistan at the same time as him and he seems to be one of many thick skulled, dim-witted officers who is full of himself and will use every breathe to assert his AUTHORITY and GREAT KNOWLEDGE. From what I've seen, every CA unit has one or two of "those officers" that everyone wants to lynch. He is by far no exception, and is one of the assholes that completely fucks up the civil affairs mission as a whole.

    Obviously I don't know the facts regarding your situation with him so I can't fairly judge. However, I have seen this man in person and have known him to be a douche, and I like your style of reporting from the battlespace so I will side with you on this.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Steve · 3 years ago
    Not surprisingly, the person who assaulted you is a police officer and was at the time of the "alleged" assault also.

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